It could be said that many of us take our metal for granted: it is always there to uplift us, and those who can play guitar can always knock out a quick riff or two to chase away the winter blues. But to quote the mighty Priest, what if metal itself was “breaking the law”? BILOCATE are a hardworking metal band who find themselves in just such a position on a day to day basis, originating from Jordan which is a Hashemite kingdom whose legal system is based largely on Islamic law. I spoke to vocalist Ramzi Essayed from the comparative safety of my London residence.
You guys originate from Al Fuhais in central Jordan. We often hear about problems that other bands have had in the Middle East being able to practice and play metal. Was there any reaction from the religious communities in your area when you started up?
Ramzi: Yes sure, its very hard to find a jamming place or even keep our instruments in one place, its even harder to find a studio to record in or a sound engineer with experience in metal music… and there are ZERO metal concerts in jordan its officially banned from the government so you can say its a dead scene for metal and a salute anyone who survive in such conditions and be able to release albums.
Your first demo “Dysphoria” was completed in 2003, which included two songs that were over 11 minutes long and an instrumental. Was this a risky move to make for a brand new band? How did you go about spreading the demo if heavy metal is banned in your country?
Ramzi: The demo was just a start, you need a base to start from and that base should have strong material behind it… we published the demo online and sent few samples to media and got very good feedback resulted in recorded our first album (Dysphoria) in 2005 that put Bilocate on the metal map and received great reviews, the album was produced and recorded by us and back then having no proper equipments the quality was not what we wanted but yet everyone understood this fact and enjoyed the music as it is… next year in 2011 we are re-releasing dysphoria with a whole new production and many changes in the tracks and it will have 2 un-released singles as well… then we are sure that it will take the same appreciation of our latest album Sudden Death Syndrome.
Subsequently you reworked this material and added to it to produce a full length under the same title in 2005. How did each band member contribute to the making of this full-length?
Ramzi: hmmm each one of the band has his own role, and we all contribute in composing music each one with his instrument…this is way our music is marked as original because it came from different influences and techniques.
This first CD included a 20-minute track that has been labelled “the longest song ever created by an Arabian metal band”. Where did you get your inspiration for such epic material?
Ramzi: We have a lot in our pockets, we don’t compose music just to have tones .. we have a message and we feel that we need to deliver it no matter how much time we had to put, the track is an opera everyone loved it and it varies so you feel like you are in a journey, the music keeps you going without feeling that it took you 20 mins to finish… the new production of the track which will be released in 2011 will also take it to another level.
Ramzi: To be frank the videos we done closely with the band, we co-produced the videos and its stories and we worked step by step with the directors which are close friends and fans of Bilocate, this helped a lot and the result was satisfying as you might saw.
Your most recent release is “Sudden Death Syndrome”, which was mixed and mastered in Sweden. How difficult was it doing some of the work for the album in Dubai and some in Sweden?
Ramzi: It was difficult to even compose the album as 4 members lives in jordan and my self (Ramzi Essayed – Vocalist) i live in dubai and our lead guitarist lives in KSA me and him moved to work and build our careers.. but we managed to compose a full album, working with Nash (In The Mix Studis – Dubai) and Jens Bogren (Sweden) was a great, both of them are very professional and know exactly how to handle remote production, this helped a lot and we are grateful for both of them for the help and knowledge they gave to us… our next release will be done the same way as we wont find better professionals to support us.
Lyrically many of your songs on the new album seem to have a strong spiritual element – angels, the divine, battles between light and darkness – topics which have always made great doom lyrics, from Black Sabbath to Trouble to Candlemass. Do these views represent any kind of coherent belief system for you?
Ramzi: Definitely, we talk about our lives and what happened in our region, everything we wrote was a real life experience that we witness everyday and you need to live in this part of the world for a while to fully understand.
We see death and hear about it almost everyday since decades, tragedies and war are like air and water here to the point that it became a good place to make stories about in movies but reality always have a deeper understanding and effect.
You have now played a number of festivals, sharing the stage with bands such as Melechesh, Sepultura and Kreator. Do you find it easy to get together to practice for live performances suah as these? Are there any particular bands you would love to play with in the future?
Ramzi: well man its not easy at all, we don’t have a fixed jamming place and to be honest for each festival we jammed together maybe once just before our stage time. yet we managed to give the fans one hell of a performance as you can see by your self on youtube, we believe in what we do and we taught our selves how to memorize the tracks by heart individually and perform as one on stage.
We would love to share the stage with Bloodbath, Opeth and my dying bride… and many others in our list i think each member will have his own fav bands to play with someday.
Recently the band has signed endorsement deals with ENGL Amps, MAYONES Guitars, Radial and ISP. How are these kind of deals useful for the future of the band?
Ramzi: its very useful equipments wise which will reflect on the sound quality and live performance as you know, when you have proper instruments and gear you perform better and sound better and even it helps a lot in recording as you might notice in our next release. those brands appreciated our music and dedication and have us huge support which we need.
Most importantly: you are currently working on a new album. How near completion is this and can you gives us any tasters of the new material?
Ramzi: We are currently working on 2 releases one is a re-recording of our first album Dysphoria with 2 new singles and many changes on the tracks that will be released in the beginning of 2011 and a whole new album which we started already that will be released late 2011 or early 2012… as for the taste we will be releasing a track from the coming release soon and you will be informed, just keep following our news on Facebook, myspace and twitter.
May I thank you for taking the time to answer this interview. Is there any message you have for potential fans across the world?
Ramzi: Thank you very much for the interview and our message is simple, just understand our music and live our experience and journey.